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Car reviews - Nissan - Qashqai - ST-L 2WD


We like
Attractive styling inside and out, good performance, acceptable fuel economy, well featured, tidy dynamics and ride, quiet cabin
Room for improvement
Pricing has increased, some intrusive default driver assist features, prefers premium unleaded, engine needs to work hard in some scenarios

Vastly improved new generation Qashqai impresses as a capable all-rounder

23 Jan 2024



DRIVING the new Qashqai ST-L proved to be much better than expected as the generation three model offers improvements across the board – especially when compared with its rather underwhelming predecessor.


It goes better, uses less fuel, looks pretty, has more kit, is roomier and quieter and delivers a well-rounded package.


The ST-L is the penultimate Qashqai model with Ti above at an extra $5200 but for all intents and purposes, the test model is all you need.


A Qashqai e-Power (hybrid) Ti is due about now but is roughly 10 grand more while competitors are almost too numerous to count with comparable models such as the Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30, VW T-Roc, Volvo XC40, Toyota C-HR, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and Honda’s HR-V.


What you get in the European-designed Qashqai is a polished, UK-built, five seat small SUV with family Nissan styling and the latest in comfort and safety tech.


The entire range (apart from the e-Power) runs a 1.3-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels alone that is rated at 110kW and 250Nm.


A Nissan X-Tronic CVT “auto” transmission is used while dynamics are controlled by a MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension with discs all round and electric steering.


It is larger than you think at 4425mm long, 1835mm wide and 1625mm high on a 2556mm wheelbase with the latter facilitating useable room in the critical, rear seat head and legroom measurements. And the load space is a decent size. Thankfully Nissan wasn’t tempted to try and squeeze in a third row…


The new Qashqai has wide opening doors for easy access and the tailgate rises high enough to clear taller users.


The interior is capped off with a luxury looking wing-shaped dash in mixed materials with multiple USB ports and a large 12.3-inch centre screen handling info’, entertainment and other car systems.


Interestingly, the test model had wireless Apple Carplay but wired Android connectivity? We understand it’s a licencing issue that saves a bit of coin.


Among the goodies included in Qashqai ST-L are 19-inch alloys, flat bottom multi-function wheel, push button ignition, native sat nav, around view monitor (360-degree camera), Pro Pilot autonomous drive prep, adaptive LED headlights, leather accented seats, eight-way powered driver’s seat, device charge pad, heated steering wheel and heated front seats.


We almost forgot dual-zone climate control and premium audio.


The new generation Qashqai scores a five-star ANCAP rating with the required active, passive and driver assist features to attain that safety level.


It has a 55 litre fuel tank, 11.5 metre turning circle and a towing capacity of 1500kg.


Driving Impressions


We had this car over the Christmas break and it proved to be the ideal holiday runabout for shopping expeditions, trips to visit friends and family, for a couple of longer journeys and a weekend away.


On more than one occasion four people were aboard which made little if any difference to the polished ride, drive feel and performance of the diminutive Nissan.


There’s a Lexus-like aura inside on the highway and to the interior styling that is attractive to look at and easy to operate.


The only time engine noise is audible is under full throttle application at speed on the freeway due in part to the CVT revving up the engine. Most of the time it functions like a conventional fluid auto.


Apart from that, the Qashqai ST-L is surprisingly quiet for a car in this class.


It has an accomplished ride/handling package for a small SUV in all but out-and-out sports driving, something for which it isn’t intended. The steering is well weighted and relatively direct with minimal bump deflection. Hit a hole cranked over through a corner at speed and the front wheel drive Qashqai just rolls on through with the suspension soaking it all up.


Relatively low profile 19-inch tyres might suggest rumbling and noise transmission, but such was not the case here apart from a slight uptick of rumble on coarse bitumen back roads. But the superior steering response from lower profile rubber outweighs any negatives.


Motive power comes from a motorbike-size 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that is adequate for the roughly 1450kg Qashqai. It has strong torque of 250Nm at low revs facilitating general driving and the peak 110kW is similarly accessible for general duties rather than needing revs to get going.


We ran it on cheaper E10 rated at 95RON that seemed to go down a treat as the test car recorded at times low 6.0 litre per 100km consumption figures in mixed driving. At that rate, the 55-litre tank is going to deliver a potential 900km range making the Melbourne to Sydney run (or similar) fuel stop free.


Though not a fan of continuously variable transmissions because of their characteristic slurring and often slovenly response, the stepped unit in the Qashqai impresses as it performs well and is virtually imperceptible in operation.


We did not hitch a trailer to test the 1500kg towing capacity but suggest it might be pushing matters it a tad.


Comfort inside the cabin is at a high level with decent size seats in four outboard positions and an agreeable blend of upholstery including leather and facia materials with plenty of standard equipment and tech.


The audio has good tones and the dual-zone air-con’ a bonus for rear seat passengers. As already mentioned, access is facilitated by wide opening doors and the overall larger size of the new gen’ Qashqai is reflected in more generous passenger dimensions.


We tried the Pro Pilot system that seems in preparation for autonomous driving and decided not to continue preferring to have full control of the car all the time. Night driving is aided by adaptive LEDs and good all round visibility further assisted by the car’s surround view camera.


Though not needed in summer, the test car’s heated front seats and steering wheel would be a plus in winter as is the eight-way electric driver’s seat adjustment.


Having started this test drive with a somewhat low expectation, we came away surprised at how competent the little Qashqai ST-L is in many areas. We’d certainly have it on the short list if shopping in the small SUV segment as it's more practical than a similarly priced BEV every day.

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